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Therapeutic potential of extracellular vesicles in preclinical stroke models: a systematic review and meta-analysis


Objectives Currently there is a paucity of clinically available regenerative therapies for stroke. Extracellular vesicles (EV) have been investigated for their potential as modulators of regeneration in the poststroke brain. This systematic review and meta-analysis aims to provide a summary of the efficacy of therapeutic EVs in preclinical stroke models, to inform future research in this emerging field.

Methods Studies were identified by a comprehensive literature search of two online sources and subsequent screening. Studies using lesion volume or neurological score as outcome measures were included. Standardised mean difference (SMD) and 95% CIs were calculated using a restricted maximum likelihood random effects model. Publication bias was assessed with Egger’s regression and presented as funnel plots with trim and fill analysis. Subgroup analysis was performed to assess the effects of different study variables. Study quality and risk of bias were assessed using the CAMARADES checklist.

Results A total of 20 publications were included in the systematic review, of which 19 were assessed in the meta-analysis (43 comparisons). Overall, EV interventions improved lesion volume (SMD: −1.95, 95% CI −2.72 to 1.18) and neurological scores (SMD: −1.26, 95% CI −1.64 to 0.87) compared with control groups. Funnel plots were asymmetrical suggesting publication bias, and trim and fill analysis predicted seven missing studies for lesion volume. Subgroup analysis suggested administration at 0–23 hours after stroke was the most effective timepoint for EV treatment. The median score on the CAMARADES checklist was 7 (IQR: 5–8).

Conclusions EVs may offer a promising new avenue for stroke therapies, as EV-based interventions had positive impacts on lesion volume and neurological score in preclinical stroke models.

PROSPERO registration number CRD42019134925.

  • stroke
  • extracellular vesicles
  • preclinical

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